Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

“You never see pictures of nice people having a nice drink and not getting hammered.”

The Guardian has a story about what young people think about the way they’re portrayed in the media in relation to alcohol.  Understandably they don’t always recognise themselves in the papers. but it appears they do have concerns about how alcohol is being used by their peers and parents:

While the majority feel that media portrayals of blitzed high streets are a gross exaggeration, a straw poll revealed that many have friends whose drinking and destructive behaviour worried them. With startling honesty, one panellist described the death of a friend. And many said that they copied their parents, which meant using or abusing alcohol to drown their sorrows or cope with pressures.

Here’s what they are reported saying about alcohol education:

The participants all thought schools needed to improve alcohol education and that they needed consistent messages.

Jack One said that his education stressed the negative aspects of alcohol from the age of 12, with the only realistic talk coming from a police officer. “He said: ‘We know you are going to drink and take drugs but do it somewhere quiet, do it nicely. If you do get drunk, call us. We will help.'”

Nicola had only been given a one-hour chat at school and felt she needed more, whereas Frankie got no advice until about 16: “By that time everyone had done it.”

One young woman goes on to say that hearing from an alcoholic made a big impression on her, but others say that advice on the harms that alcohol can do are often shrugged off because “it always seemed it couldn’t happen to them.”

Peer education is perceived positively, but the messages about alcohol shouldn’t be about prohibition, and need to recognise that young people will make mistakes.  One of the participants says:

“We are known as a generation of cottonwool kids, wrapped up. We have everything. But young people need to learn to make their own mistakes. They need to do what they want and if it goes wrong, even at 13, the majority will learn by them.”

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Filed under: alcohol, drug education

3 Responses

  1. tracy says:

    I agree young people need to make their own mistakes in life and hopefully learn by them but what about those who dont learn and end up alcoholics?? There needs to be far more education in schools and young people need to learn that they dont have to drink to be sociable.

  2. Thanks for your comment Tracy, we would certainly agree that schools should have a focus on alcohol as part of their drug education work. Similarly parents need to talk to their children about alcohol and not just assume that schools will do all the heavy lifting.

    I think it’s interesting that the Chief Medical Officer, in his recent guidance, was trying to increase the emphasis on abstinence certainly before the age of 15.

    Whether we as a society are ready to hear those messages at the moment remains to be seen.

    • tracy says:

      Parents should talk to their children about alcohol and not assume their child would be educated about it at school.I receive an awful lot of emails from not just parents but teenagers who drink and many of them say that even if their parents spoke to them it would not make much difference to them while they are with their friends.Many young people have told me that their parents buy them alcohol or they get an older person to buy it for them.We as a society should be listening to teenagers more about what they feel would work for them instead of the government thinking about what works for them!!Educate children in middle schools and not just once in a blue moon either.
      I have a free email support line for people to contact me with their thoughts and feelings on this subject as parents or carers of teenagers abusing alcohol and it is quite shocking to read the ages of some of their children.
      I am at present asking as many people as I can to tell me what their ‘definition’ of an alcoholic is and many still say an old man with no home!! Unfortunately this is not the case as alcoholics can be any one at any age and unless something is done about the teen drinking culture we will have many teenage alcoholics.

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